Michael Vitaly

theatre maker, writer, artist

Sonnet on a Ginkgo Leaf

Through the strains of these veins, water did flow.

Nutrient-rich from root through trunk to tip.

For generations did this Ginkgo owe

None but itself a yearning chance to rip

Through Earth’s sullen view and stand above land,

And yet selflessly did its downturned leaves

Provide a curtain-like home to the ant,

A haven where songs of the birds could weave

Wise ancient tales of unwavering tunes.

Those selfsame leaves dance and shimmer like jewels,

Fluttering freely across many moons,

Bearing witness to all systems of rules.

I rub these veins, asking with my fingers,

“When we’re all gone, what is left, that lingers?”

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Underground again

Hurling between stopping and starting
We clatter grind and chug along
The depths of this L track.

And bones collapse beneath the weight of plain old gravity
Muscles and tendons and sinews unknown
The levels as lists are endless no doubt
For learn well within you
And far out you’ll go
As easily as treading through the beast of the sea.

Hurling forward at a steady clip
Towards Brooklyn we right go
Seven or so I can’t look up
Gravity’s got my ears.
(And I swallow to pull them back down).

Lines on Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies”

Looking at this world through the eyes of others,
I prefer to lose myself in the in between
to gain for myself what I may glean.

Alone no more but quivering with life,
The sun so strong through clouds resplendent,
into your eyes deeper I delve
only to skim only the surface.

What collects on the surface is muck,
green from the air and yellowed from sun,
blossoms of youthful spring
and obfuscation around the edges
you are but lines and shapes and times of day.

Rectangles like bodies of work
at work and at play.

Lilac whispers in coming summer breezes,
while dusk coos me quiet.

The water never is still,
and always full of life.

Living for others is the all.

Where I stand and peer into “now”
I’m pressed by space beyond me –
far off, unreachable distances –
and I only move on
in between.

Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)

1914-26. Oil on canvas, three panels,
Each 6′ 6 3/4″ x 13′ 11 1/4″ (200 x 424.8 cm),
overall 6′ 6 3/4″ x 41′ 10 3/8″ (200 x 1276 cm).

Moma Link to Water Lilies

Lines on “Agapanthus” by Claude Monet

So alive and free
yet part of all around,
flecks of fire
and fountains of youth
explode and caress,
engage and detract.

Temporal beauty,
fleeting wisdom,
down from Heaven
lost in you.
Teach us to live
but once forever
in and out of this world’s view.

            Moma Link to Agapanthus

Just a stanza.

Coasters fall from hands of youths
Like petals from white blossoms,
Stolen by a summer wind
Far off long ago.

Lines to a poet friend

To a poet stranger I’ve never met,
I wish you peace and joy and clarity,
Through the many miles that lay between us,
Of mountains, rivers, and neighbor cities,
I wish you peace of heart and peace of mind,
For the doors to one’s imagination
Are unlocked by an open heart and mind;
I wish you joy to see the pain in life
As lessons for the strength that you possess;
I wish you clarity in thoughts and acts
To be your best and never second guess.
I wish upon the million stars above,
In faith for sure I call upon them now,
“Take my message through this day’s fog to you,
You, oh poet stranger, I’ve never met!”

Fog

Fog

Through a veil against the coming day,
bare tree limbs protrude from the smoky white.
Lifeless trees stand yet reach out for the sky.
Some stubborn brown leaves like skeletons hang
to little limbs caught in night’s caresses.

The sky seems tired of being so high,
so throughout the night she must have fallen
to the earth where she remains entangled,
still here — her laced crown and diadem
do keep my thoughts to stolen nights with you.

Like a shroud keeping out the day, you stay
Near to my heart, and envelop my limbs
with heat from your tender sweet caresses.
I remain like the stubborn leaf, a shell
of my former self, soaking in your sky.

 

Taps

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The white chalk blocks
The wicked electric blue,
The molten orange beneath
And the entrance of you.

I had to offer two beers
In peace when you walked in.

I also threw more wood on the fire.
Two rather skinny pieces as kindling along the sides of the already steady log cabin.
And one long quartered piece besides a small hunk of a mistake,
A split of a split diagonally sliced.

So I looked down at the fire once more,
And saw only shapes and colors and times of day,
And that scarf I picked up
— chartreuse —
The night of our only date.

Someone had left that scarf
A party or two before
And I assumed ownership of if the following morning.
The morning after when I recalled your leaving —
after my rather lascivious display.

I would’ve liked to have been able to tell you how much I enjoyed our date,
But we don’t talk anymore
And I’m too ashamed to say anything
I’m dumb
And see only colors.

The white chalk blocks,
The wicked electric blue,
The molten orange beneath
And the fire’s hottest hues.

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Lines in Section 22 at the Arlington National Cemetery

On this hill facing east. The falling sun warms my eye to stop and notice a fat little Robin walking upon the marble base to this large rectangular rock, this gravestone. There’s Carr and Thomas on either side of this Colonel and Cross and Fuller below. Robinson, Sullivan, Griffin, and Reed. Homer and Klein and Hull and Stokes. Names upon names and stones upon stones, rows upon rows and me upon one hill. One little hill, of so many. One little me, and so many of them.

I trek on but am overcome.

This little grey book

I’ve carried so long,
This little grey book I dropped and lost
Some time ago.